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EDU 111 - Teaching Math & Science to Young Children - Textbook

Chapter 4: Special Needs

4.1: What is RTI for Mathematics?

4.1 What is RTI for mathematics?

"What is RTI for mathematics?" in MTSS/RTI: Mathematics by The IRIS Center Peabody College Vanderbilt University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.


Teachers know that if students are to create a foundation for understanding abstract mathematics concepts, it is important that they begin to develop essential skills and concepts at an early age. However, research conducted since the 1970s has shown that, although U.S. students’ mathematics proficiency has improved somewhat, a large number of students continue to struggle with the subject.

The response to intervention (RTI) framework has been used to improve students’ mathematics proficiency. RTI is a type of multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) for delivering support through increasingly intensive levels of instruction that are matched to students’ needs and based on data.


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Effective instruction is a cornerstone of the RTI framework. As we discussed earlier, many but not all students who receive high-quality core instruction will succeed in the general education classroom. When teachers implement high-quality instruction at the primary level, inadequate instruction can be ruled out as a reason for students’ poor mathematics performance. Students who do not respond to this instruction should receive more intensive supports. Read on to find out more about high-quality instruction and how instruction is intensified at each of the three tiers of support.


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4.2: Teaching Math to Students with Learning Disabilities

4.2 Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities or Difficulty Learning Mathematics: A Guide for Teachers

"Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities or Difficulty Learning Mathematics: A Guide for Teachers" © 2008 Madhavi Jayanthi, Russell Gersten and Scott Baker of the Instructional Research Group for Center on Instruction.

These products may be downloaded for free from the Center's website. They may also be reproduced and distributed with two stipulations: (1) the "preferred citation" for each product, typically noted on the page following the title page, must be included in all reproductions and (2) no profit may be made in the reproduction and/or distribution of the material. Nominal charges to cover printing, photocopying, or mailing are allowed.

"Historically, mathematics instruction for students with learning disabilities and at-risk learners has not received the same level of consideration and scrutiny from the research community, policy makers, and school administrators as the field of reading. A recent review of the ERIC literature base (Gersten, Clarke, & Mazzocco, 2007) found that the ratio of studies on reading disabilities to mathematics disabilities and difficulties was 5:1 for the years 1996–2005. This was a dramatic improvement over the ratio of 16:1 in the prior decade. Even though this is far from a large body of research, sufficient studies exist to dictate a course of action.

Recently, the Center on Instruction conducted a meta-analysis on the topic of teaching mathematics to students with learning disabilities (Gersten, Chard, Jayanthi, Baker, Morphy, & Flojo, 2008). A meta-analysis is a statistical method by which research studies on a particular method of instruction are summarized to determine the effectiveness of that instructional method. A meta-analysis helps combine findings from disparate studies to determine the effectiveness of a particular method of instruction.

In the meta-analysis on teaching mathematics to students with learning disabilities (LD), only studies with randomized control trials (RCTs) and high quality quasi-experimental designs (QEDs) were included. In an RCT, the study participants (or other units such as classrooms or schools) are randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups, whereas in a QED, there is no random assignment of participants to the groups."

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